It is the calm before the storm or like being within the eye of a massive level five hurricane. After a spring filled with Triple Crown drama then a rapid transition into a smoking hot summer filled with all kinds of superstars, potential big shots, and out of the blue longshots winning some of America's most prestigious all preparing for one common goal, the ultimate prize, the Breeders Cup.
Now with less than a week left there is a lull in the excitement, for once a weekend without a Breeders Cup prep race on the program showed up, leaving what are, by now, many adrenaline addicted fans going through withdraw. This weekend is not totally void of excitement though, Lentenor, Barbaro's baby brother made his debut yesterday. Dublin, who threw in one heck of a clunker in the Champagne Stakes last out is racing today for redemption in the Iroquois Stakes. Also today comes another Cuvee Uncorked update! Maybe it's not the amount of adrenaline us die hards are used to, but it should get us through the weekend and last us until Ladies Day Friday.
Why don't we start with a little overview of what is to come in the Iroquois. Dublin, a massive colt who towers over his fellow two year old, while standing at a giant 16.3 hands and weighing over 1200 pounds, has displayed his talent on the track a couple of times when breaking his maiden second asking then coming back to win the Hopeful Stakes beating the top juvenile in Backtalk. He disappointed badly when finishing a well beaten fifth as the favorite in the Champagne Stakes.
Today Dublin returns as a narrow morning line favorite and the highwieght in the Iroquois. Dublin has a huge class edge over all rivals in this race and the only real horses that may ring a bit of a bell to some are Brassy Boy, Gleam of Hope and Comedero. Brassy Boy has won two of his four starts and was runner up in the Razorback Stakes to Comedero. Gleam of Hope has won three in a row, including a stakes by over two lengths, running over the Churchill Downs strip, which is where the Iroquois is run at. Comedero broke his maiden by an eye catching 12 1/2 lengths then took the Razorback field wire to wire. Though not as proven as the other fields Dublin has had the experience to race against any number of these colts could jump up and snatch the prize.
Now let's put things in reverse a bit until we hit the third race yesterday at Keeneland. Why the heck do we want to look at some maiden some of you may say. Well because this is no ordinary maiden, this is Lentenor's long awaited debut. Looking Lentenor in the post parade I could not believe the resemblance to Barabaro. Yes the star is smaller and his head thinner, but in some ways you could have said that this was Barbaro reincarnated.
Lentenor loaded smoothly and professionally, but as the gates opened he was somewhat unprepared and broke a beat or two slow. Rushing up Lentenor improved his position to fourth out of eleven. Down on the inside the seven furlong race was going by very quickly, and with nowhere to go Lentenor dropped back loosing several lengths. Coming out of the turn Lentenor began to re-rally, but ran right up behind a large wall of horses. With time running our Lentenor was swung wide and given a couple of taps of the whip. Realizing it was time to start running, Lentenor kicked it back into gear and began closing gamely. Unfortunately, he was uncorked to late to do any real damage to the first and second place horses, though he did close gamely for third money.
Considering the top two horses had more experience, his very unproductive trip, and being that it is his first race, Lentenor ran very well. The wall of horses he ran into did little to deter him from his task at hand, and when given a clear path he kept his mind on business and closed in. In the future he will probably be given more, much needed distance, so that he will not run out of ground so quickly. I do not expect him to stay a maiden for to much longer and think he could be a very nice three year old next year if managed correctly.
Now onto the finale! Today Cuvee Uncorked ran in the third race at Aqueduct, the Poker Night Stakes. In her last stakes try Cuvee Uncorked ran a game second, beaten only half a length. She had come into that race with only fifteen days rest and traveling for the first time. This time around she had a months rest and not a lot of traveling coming into the race. She was facing off against Yes She's A Lady, trained by Todd Pletcher. In her last race Yes She's A Lady drilled her competition into the dirt winning by over ten lengths. Mother Ruth was another filly getting some betting attention and being trained by the infamous Bob Baffert it is no wonder why.
A the gates flew open Cuvee Uncorked rushed up to take the lead, but soon relinquished it when Yes She's A Lady and Lady Alexander made it apparent that they had their minds set on duking it out early in a speed duel that produced a blistering quarter in 22.69 seconds. The half went by in 44 seconds flat and as Yes She's A Lady began to slowly wilt on the front end Cuvee Uncorked was just starting to uncoil her rally on the outside, pushed almost four paths out into the track. Seizing the lead coming out of the turn, Cuvee Uncorked was not finished yet as Mother Ruth started to close in on the outside. Sensing her challenger Cuvee Uncorked picked up the pace again, easily turning back Mother Ruth to win easily by about two lengths.
The final time was caught in a moderate 1.25.27, after running six furlongs in 1.11.67. After going back and watching how the track was playing towards some of the other sprints, I saw that in many of the races the first half mile to the first five eighths was normally run in a blister pace that saw a time anywhere between 57 and 59 seconds. After that the horses would slow down dramatically and normally finish in 1.11 or 1.12. Knowing this the fractions in Cuvee Uncorked's race were spot on with most of the rest, with having a quick opening half mile, then closing the final furlong in around 12 or 13 seconds.
After such a fantastic performance in only her fourth career start it would seem that Cuvee Uncorked will soon be headed for some bigger prizes. Displaying her class, heart, and brilliant speed, yet again, she is proving herself to be one very nice filly, and possibly setting herself up for a shot at next years Breeders Cup, perhaps in the Filly and Mare Sprint? We now have one very promising maiden and a star on the rise. Now lets see if Dublin can come back to regain his star status with a win in today's Iroquois. Hopefully this will be enough to temporarily satisfy our hunger for some soon to come Breeders Cup action.